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Reason #7: You Support Innovation and Product Diversity

23 December 2012 Published in Local First Utah Blog

            If you carry any doubt in your mind about the diverse types of products made in Utah, a quick trip to Mololo Gardens should dispel all uncertainties about the ingenuity of local entrepreneurs. Just to the south of Pioneer Park on 400 South, Mololo Gardens carries is everything from locally made chocolate tortillas to hand-mixed, hand-bottled, and hand-labeled mouthwash. The collection of local goods for sale in their little shop is genuinely awe-inspiring. Walking through the aisles at Mololo Gardens is like walking through a menagerie of entrepreneurial passion. Each product is a picture of the innovation that is required of local business owner to produce a truly unique product.

            Often, the notion of innovation speaks to newness, to the idea of creating something that’s never before been created. We think of technology, and of the future. While this is certainly the case with many of our local entrepreneurs, some local business owners have found that looking to the past provides them with the best source for a new idea.

            Artisans like those who create Slide Ridge Honey and Oolite Cheese have found inspiration by looking to the past, by returning to timeworn practices that many large-scale food producers have propelled past in an attempt to produce the most rather than to produce the best.
            Slide Ridge Honey has returned to the age-old standard of using a “mother” to turn their honey mead into honey vinegar. A mother is a spongy, gelatinous, living thing that rests on the surface of the liquid that’s being turned into vinegar. Its job is to eat the alcohol in the wine, and in doing so, turns the wine into vinegar. This centuries old practice has been reinvigorated by Martin James to create Slide Ridge’s delectable Honey Wine Vinegar.

            Joel and Rachel Wilcox, creators of Oolite Cheese, began their cheese making endeavors because of a simple fondness for cheese. As the explored the world of cheese, determining their likes and dislikes, they discovered a common love cheese’s like Roquefort and other cheeses made predominately from sheep’s milk, aged in limestone caves using mold.  A certain degree of serendipity led them to Manti, Utah, a small town that rest on limestone bedrock and is home to several sheep farmers. With these two elements in place, the Wilcoxes asked themselves,  “What does the mold taste like in Sanpete County?”

The answer came in the form of two unique cheeses: “Boys Pants Rebellion” and “What’s Her Name.” (The stories behind these titles deserve of a blog in and of themselves.) These cheeses are a remarkable homage to ancient cheese making practices, and are quite groundbreaking. Scientists at Utah State University believe the Wilcoxes have happened upon as new strain of cheese-making mold, which is, apparently, quite a big deal.  

“Ten Reasons to Buy Locally” is a photo narrative in the Risk Takers & Place Makers show on display now through the end of the year at the Salt Lake City & County Building. Don’t miss it!